front cover of Academic Ableism
Academic Ableism
Disability and Higher Education
Jay Timothy Dolmage
University of Michigan Press, 2017
Academic Ableism brings together disability studies and institutional critique to recognize the ways that disability is composed in and by higher education, and rewrites the spaces, times, and economies of disability in higher education to place disability front and center. For too long, argues Jay Timothy Dolmage, disability has been constructed as the antithesis of higher education, often positioned as a distraction, a drain, a problem to be solved. The ethic of higher education encourages students and teachers alike to accentuate ability, valorize perfection, and stigmatize anything that hints at intellectual, mental, or physical weakness, even as we gesture toward the value of diversity and innovation. Examining everything from campus accommodation processes, to architecture, to popular films about college life, Dolmage argues that disability is central to higher education, and that building more inclusive schools allows better education for all.
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Academic Ableism
Disability and Higher Education
Jay Timothy Dolmage
University of Michigan Press, 2017
Academic Ableism brings together disability studies and institutional critique to recognize the ways that disability is composed in and by higher education, and rewrites the spaces, times, and economies of disability in higher education to place disability front and center. For too long, argues Jay Timothy Dolmage, disability has been constructed as the antithesis of higher education, often positioned as a distraction, a drain, a problem to be solved. The ethic of higher education encourages students and teachers alike to accentuate ability, valorize perfection, and stigmatize anything that hints at intellectual, mental, or physical weakness, even as we gesture toward the value of diversity and innovation. Examining everything from campus accommodation processes, to architecture, to popular films about college life, Dolmage argues that disability is central to higher education, and that building more inclusive schools allows better education for all.
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The Academic Postmodern and the Rule of Literature
A Report on Half-Knowledge
David Simpson
University of Chicago Press, 1995
This brilliantly argued book is an entirely fresh critique of the postmodern turn. David Simpson sets his sights on the most distinctive aspects of postmodern scholarship: the pervasiveness of the literary and the flight from grand theory to local knowledge.

Simpson examines defining features of postmodern thought—storytelling, autobiography, anecdote, and localism—and traces their unacknowledged roots in literature and literary criticism. Considering such examples as the conversational turn in philosophy led by Richard Rorty and the anecdotal qualities of the New Historicism, he argues that much of contemporary scholarship is literary in its terms, methods, and assumptions about knowledge; in their often unconscious adoption of literary approaches, scholars in philosophy, history, anthropology, and other disciplines have confined themselves to a traditional—and limited—way of looking at the world. Simpson is the first to uncover the largely unacknowledged ancestry of the key paradigms and sensibilities of the academic postmodern—tracing their roots to nineteenth-century Romanticism and to more general traditions of literature. He warns scholars against mistaking the migration of ideas from one discipline to another for a radically new response to the postmodern age.

In his nuanced and balanced assessment of the academic postmodern enterprise, Simpson recognizes that both the literary turn and the emphasis on local, subjective voices have done much to enrich knowledge. But he also identifies the danger in abandoning synthetic knowledge to particular truths, cautioning that "we would be foolish to pretend that little narratives are true alternatives to grand ones, rather than chips off a larger block whose shape we can no longer see because we are not looking."
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Addressing Postmodernity
Kenneth Burke, Rhetoric, and a Theory of Social Change
Barbara Biesecker
University of Alabama Press, 2000
Reveals the full range of Kenneth Burke's contribution to the possibility of social change

In Addressing Postmodernity, Barbara Biesecker examines the relationship between rhetoric and social change and the ways human beings transform social relations through the purposeful use of symbols. In discerning the conditions of possibility for social transformation and the role of human beings and rhetoric in it, Biesecker turns to the seminal work of Kenneth Burke.
 
Through a close reading of Burke's major works, A Grammar of Motives, A Rhetoric of Motives, and The Rhetoric of Religion: Studies in Logology, the author addresses the critical topic of the
fragmentation of the contemporary lifeworld revealing postmodernity will have a major impact on Burkeian scholarship and on the rhetorical critique of social relations in general.
 
Directly confronting the challenges posed by postmodernity to social theorists and critics alike and juxtaposing the work of Burke and Jurgen Habermas, Biesecker argues that a radicalized rereading of Burke's theory of the negative opens the way toward a resolutely rhetorical theory of social change and human agency.
 

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Advances in the Analysis of Spanish Exclamatives
Ignacio Bosque
The Ohio State University Press, 2017
Advances in the Analysis of Spanish Exclamatives is the first book entirely devoted to Spanish exclamatives, a special sentence type often overlooked by contemporary linguists and neglected in standard grammatical descriptions. The seven essays in this volume, each by a leading specialist on the topic, scrutinize the syntax—as well as the semantic and pragmatic aspects—of exclamations on theoretical grounds.
The book begins by summarizing, commenting on, and evaluating previous descriptive and theoretical contributions on Spanish exclamatives. This introductory overview also contains a detailed classification of Spanish exclamative grammatical types, along with an analysis of their main properties. Special attention is devoted in the book throughoutto the syntactic structures displayed by exclamative patterns; the differences between exclamations and other speech acts (specifically questions and imperatives); the peculiar semantic denotation of exclamative words and their relationship to quantifiers denoting high degree; the semantics of adjectives and adverbs expressing extreme evaluation; the form and interpretation of negated and embedded exclamatives; the properties of optative utterances; and the different ways in which expressive contents are related to unexpected reactions of the speaker, as well as possible knowledge shared by interlocutors.
This groundbreaking volume provides a complete and accurate picture of Spanish exclamation by integrating its numerous component parts.
 
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Aesthetic Experience and Literary Hermeneutics
Jauss, Hans Robert
University of Minnesota Press, 1982

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Aesthetic Ideology
Paul De Man
University of Minnesota Press, 1996

An important reconsideration of ideology by one of this century’s most eminent theorists.

This long-awaited volume by one of the major figures of twentieth-century thought represents perhaps the most provocative, serious, and important rethinking of “ideology” since the publication of Althusser's essays in the 1960s and 1970s. Aesthetic Ideology offers the definitive resource to de Man's thoughts on philosophy, politics, and history.

The core of Aesthetic Ideology is a rigorous inquiry into the relation of rhetoric, epistemology, and aesthetics, one that presents radical notions of materiality. De Man reads Kant and Hegel with a combination of philosophical rigor, interpretive pressure, speculative daring, and ironic good humor that is unique to him, ultimately reaching the heart of philosophical aesthetics. The texts collected here were written or delivered as lectures during the last years of de Man's life, between 1977 and 1983. Many of them have never been available previously in any form; these include essays on Kant's materialism, his relation to Schiller, and the concept of irony. A culmination of de Man's thinking on these central issues, Aesthetic Ideology is a necessary and vital component of your humanities bookshelf. ContentsIntroduction: Allegories of ReferenceThe Epistemology of MetaphorPascal's Allegory of PersuasionPhenomenality and Materiality in KantSign and Symbol in Hegel's AestheticsHegel on the SublimeKant's MaterialismKant and SchillerThe Concept of IronyReply to Raymond Geuss
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The Affect Theory Reader
Melissa Gregg and Gregory J. Seigworth, eds.
Duke University Press, 2010
This field-defining collection consolidates and builds momentum in the burgeoning area of affect studies. The contributors include many of the central theorists of affect—those visceral forces beneath, alongside, or generally other than conscious knowing that can serve to drive us toward movement, thought, and ever-changing forms of relation. As Lauren Berlant explores “cruel optimism,” Brian Massumi theorizes the affective logic of public threat, and Elspeth Probyn examines shame, they, along with the other contributors, show how an awareness of affect is opening up exciting new insights in disciplines from anthropology, cultural studies, geography, and psychology to philosophy, queer studies, and sociology. In essays diverse in subject matter, style, and perspective, the contributors demonstrate how affect theory illuminates the intertwined realms of the aesthetic, the ethical, and the political as they play out across bodies (human and non-human) in both mundane and extraordinary ways. They reveal the broad theoretical possibilities opened by an awareness of affect as they reflect on topics including ethics, food, public morale, glamor, snark in the workplace, and mental health regimes. The Affect Theory Reader includes an interview with the cultural theorist Lawrence Grossberg and an afterword by the anthropologist Kathleen Stewart. In the introduction, the editors suggest ways of defining affect, trace the concept’s history, and highlight the role of affect theory in various areas of study.

Contributors. Sara Ahmed, Ben Anderson, Lauren Berlant, Lone Bertelsen, Steven D. Brown, Patricia Ticineto Clough, Anna Gibbs,Melissa Gregg, Lawrence Grossberg, Ben Highmore, Brian Massumi, Andrew Murphie, Elspeth Probyn, Gregory J. Seigworth, Kathleen Stewart, Nigel Thrift, Ian Tucker, Megan Watkins

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The Affect Theory Reader 2
Worldings, Tensions, Futures
Gregory J. Seigworth and Carolyn Pedwell, editors
Duke University Press, 2023
Building on the foundational Affect Theory Reader, this new volume gathers together contemporary scholarship that highlights and interrogates the contemporary state of affect inquiry. Unsettling what might be too readily taken-for-granted assumptions in affect theory, The Affect Theory Reader 2 extends and challenges how contemporary theories of affect intersect with a wide range of topics and fields that include Black studies, queer and trans theory, Indigenous cosmologies, feminist cultural analysis, psychoanalysis, and media ecologies. It foregrounds vital touchpoints for contemporary studies of affect, from the visceral elements of climate emergency and the sensorial sinews of networked media to the minor feelings entangled with listening, looking, thinking, writing, and teaching otherwise. Tracing affect’s resonances with today’s most critical debates, The Affect Theory Reader 2 will reorient and disorient readers to the past, present, and future potentials of affect theory.

Contributors. Lauren Berlant, Lisa Blackman, Rizvana Bradley, Ann Cvetkovich, Ezekiel J. Dixon-Román, Adam J. Frank, M. Gail Hamner, Omar Kasmani, Cecilia Macón, Hil Malatino, Erin Manning, Derek P. McCormack, Patrick Nickleson, Susanna Paasonen, Tyrone S. Palmer, Carolyn Pedwell, Jasbir K. Puar, Jason Read, Michael Richardson, Dylan Robinson, Tony D. Sampson, Kyla Schuller, Gregory J. Seigworth, Nathan Snaza, Kathleen Stewart, Elizabeth A. Wilson
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Affective Ecologies
Empathy, Emotion, and Environmental Narrative
Alexa Weik von Mossner
The Ohio State University Press, 2017
Affective Ecologies: EmpathyEmotion, and Environmental Narrative explores our emotional engagement with environmental narrative. Focusing on the American cultural context, Alexa Weik von Mossner develops an ecocritical approach that draws on the insights of affective science and cognitive narratology. This approach helps to clarify how we interact with environmental narratives in ways that are both biologically universal and culturally specific. In doing so, it pays particular attention to the thesis that our minds are both embodied (in a physical body) and embedded (in a physical environment), not only when we interact with the real world but also in our engagement with imaginary worlds.
 
How do we experience the virtual environments we encounter in literature and film on the sensory and emotional level? How do environmental narratives invite us to care for human and nonhuman others who are put at risk? And how do we feel about the speculative futures presented to us in ecotopian and ecodystopian texts? Weik von Mossner explores these central questions that are important to anyone with an interest in the emotional appeal and persuasive power of environmental narratives.
 
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Affective Mapping
Melancholia and the Politics of Modernism
Jonathan Flatley
Harvard University Press, 2008

The surprising claim of this book is that dwelling on loss is not necessarily depressing. Instead, Jonathan Flatley argues, embracing melancholy can be a road back to contact with others and can lead people to productively remap their relationship to the world around them. Flatley demonstrates that a seemingly disparate set of modernist writers and thinkers showed how aesthetic activity can give us the means to comprehend and change our relation to loss.

The texts at the center of Flatley’s analysis—Henry James’s Turn of the Screw, W. E. B. Du Bois’s The Souls of Black Folk, and Andrei Platonov’s Chevengur—share with Freud an interest in understanding the depressing effects of difficult losses and with Walter Benjamin the hope that loss itself could become a means of connection and the basis for social transformation. For Du Bois, Platonov, and James, the focus on melancholy illuminates both the historical origins of subjective emotional life and a heretofore unarticulated community of melancholics. The affective maps they produce make possible the conversion of a depressive melancholia into a way to be interested in the world.

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After Innocence
Visions of the Fall in Modern Literature
Terry Otten
University of Pittsburgh Press, 1982

The fear of falling, the awareness of lost innocence, lost illusions, lost hopes and intentions, of civilization in decline—these are the themes which link literature to theology, both concerned with the shape of human destiny. Otten discusses the continuing viability of the myth of the Fall in literature. He relates a wide variety of romantic and modern works to fundamental issues in modern Christianity.

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After Sex?
On Writing since Queer Theory
Janet Halley and Andrew Parker, eds.
Duke University Press, 2011
Since queer theory originated in the early 1990s, its insights and modes of analysis have been taken up by scholars across the humanities and social sciences. In After Sex? prominent contributors to the development of queer studies offer personal reflections on the field’s history, accomplishments, potential, and limitations. They consider the purpose of queer theory and the extent to which it is or is not defined by its engagement with sex and sexuality. For many of the contributors, a broad notion of sexuality is essential to queer thought. At the same time, some of them caution against creating an all-embracing idea of queerness, because it empties the term “queer” of meaning and assumes the universality of ideas developed in the North American academy. Some essays recall the political urgency of the late 1980s and early 1990s, when gay and lesbian activist and queer theory projects converged in response to the AIDS crisis. Other pieces exemplify more recent trends in queer critique, including the turn to affect and the debates surrounding the “antisocial thesis,” which associates queerness with the repudiation of heteronormative forms of belonging. Contributors discuss queer theory’s engagement with questions of transnationality and globalization, temporality and historical periodization. Meditating on the past and present of queer studies, After Sex? illuminates its future.

Contributors. Lauren Berlant, Leo Bersani, Michael Cobb, Ann Cvetkovich, Lee Edelman, Richard Thompson Ford, Carla Freccero, Elizabeth Freeman, Jonathan Goldberg, Janet Halley, Neville Hoad, Joseph Litvak, Heather Love, Michael Lucey, Michael Moon, José Esteban Muñoz, Jeff Nunokawa, Andrew Parker, Elizabeth A. Povinelli, Richard Rambuss, Erica Rand, Bethany Schneider, Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, Kate Thomas

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After Strange Texts
The Role of Theory in the Study of Literature
Gregory S. Jay and David L. Miller
University of Alabama Press, 1985
Does the choice of a particular theory alter the practice of reading

In this collection of essays by seven outstanding American scholars, interests as diverse as feminism, Marxism, deconstruction, and cultural poetics are brought together around a central question: how does the choice of a particular theory alter the practice of reading and do altered practices of reading in turn call forth more theory?
 
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After the Future
The Paradoxes of Postmodernism & Contemporary Russian Culture
Mikhail N. Epstein
University of Massachusetts Press, 1995
This book brings together for the first time in English the major writings of Mikhail Epstein, one of post-Soviet Russia's most prominent theoreticians of cultural studies and postmodernism. Written from a non-Western point of view yet informed by a familiarity with Western literary theory, it offers a fresh, lucid perspective on the post-communist literary scene as well as a practical and theoretical introduction to the new discipline of Russian "culturology."
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The Afterlife of Reproductive Slavery
Biocapitalism and Black Feminism’s Philosophy of History
Alys Eve Weinbaum
Duke University Press, 2019
In The Afterlife of Reproductive Slavery Alys Eve Weinbaum investigates the continuing resonances of Atlantic slavery in the cultures and politics of human reproduction that characterize contemporary biocapitalism. As a form of racial capitalism that relies on the commodification of the human reproductive body, biocapitalism is dependent upon what Weinbaum calls the slave episteme—the racial logic that drove four centuries of slave breeding in the Americas and Caribbean. Weinbaum outlines how the slave episteme shapes the practice of reproduction today, especially through use of biotechnology and surrogacy. Engaging with a broad set of texts, from Toni Morrison's Beloved and Octavia Butler's dystopian speculative fiction to black Marxism, histories of slavery, and legal cases involving surrogacy, Weinbaum shows how black feminist contributions from the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s constitute a powerful philosophy of history—one that provides the means through which to understand how reproductive slavery haunts the present.
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Against Literature
John Beverley
University of Minnesota Press, 1993

Is there a way of thinking about literature that is “outside” or “against” literature? In Against Literature, John Beverly brilliantly responds to this question, arguing for a negation of the literary that would allow nonliterary forms of cultural practice to displace literature’s hegemony.

Reminding us that most contemporary theorist speak today of literature with historically and socially specific conditions of production and reading formations, Beverley begins with a provocative exploration of Latin American literature, which he says the legacy of Columbus (discovery, conquest, and colonization) has endowed with an ambiguous cultural function, making it both a colonial institution and a historical agent of nation formation. He moves from this consideration to an extensive discussion of the postcolonial testimonio, poised between literature and the dynamics of subaltern culture. Beverley’s demonstration of how the internal logic that has always driven the dominant conception f literature must of necessity explode int cultural politics is a significant intervention into current debates about cultural studies, the canon, and multiculturalism.
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Against the Closet
Black Political Longing and the Erotics of Race
Aliyyah I. Abdur-Rahman
Duke University Press, 2012
In Against the Closet, Aliyyah I. Abdur-Rahman interrogates and challenges cultural theorists' interpretations of sexual transgression in African American literature. She argues that, from the mid-nineteenth century through the twentieth, black writers used depictions of erotic transgression to contest popular theories of identity, pathology, national belonging, and racial difference in American culture. Connecting metaphors of sexual transgression to specific historical periods, Abdur-Rahman explains how tropes such as sadomasochism and incest illuminated the psychodynamics of particular racial injuries and suggested forms of social repair and political redress from the time of slavery, through post-Reconstruction and the civil rights and black power movements, to the late twentieth century.

Abdur-Rahman brings black feminist, psychoanalytic, critical race, and poststructuralist theories to bear on literary genres from slave narratives to science fiction. Analyzing works by African American writers, including Frederick Douglass, Pauline Hopkins, Harriet Jacobs, James Baldwin, and Octavia Butler, she shows how literary representations of transgressive sexuality expressed the longings of African Americans for individual and collective freedom. Abdur-Rahman contends that those representations were fundamental to the development of African American forms of literary expression and modes of political intervention and cultural self-fashioning.

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Against Theory
Literary Studies and the New Pragmatism
W. J. T. Mitchell
University of Chicago Press, 1985
"Against Theory," the title essay in this volume, challenges the notion that literary theory has any real work to do, or any results to show. This challenge—issued by Steven Knapp and Walter Benn Michaels in Critical Inquiry (8:4)—strikes some critics as scandalous, others as provocative and productive.

The argument is directed against both sides of the current debates in literary theory, criticizing theoretical "objectivists" like E. D. Hirsch, Jr., on the one hand, and proponents of indeterminacy like Paul de Man on the other. The attack is not just on a particular way of doing theory but on the entire project of literary theory. The challenge is not only to a way of thinking and writing but to a way of making a living.

The resulting controversy has drawn so much attention among literary critics that it has been collected in a single volume so that the debate can be followed from start to finish. This collection includes the essay "Against Theory," seven responses to it, and a rejoinder by Knapp and Michaels (originally published in Critical Inquiry 9:4); in addition, there are two new statements plus a final reply by Knapp and Michaels.

The debate chronicled in this volume raises the most fundamental issues in the theory of meaning and the practice of interpretation. Are Knapp and Michaels confronting literary theory with a new "pragmatic" form of theory? Or are they (as some of their respondents suggest) arguing for a new form of nihilism? "If it is a nihilism," writes editor W. J. T. Mitchell, "it is one that demands an answer, not easy polemical dismissal, one that calls for theory to clarify its claims, not to mystify them and the easy assurance of intellectual fashion and institutional authority." It is the intention of Against Theory to aid in that clarification.
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Ahab Unbound
Melville and the Materialist Turn
Meredith Farmer
University of Minnesota Press, 2021

Why Captain Ahab is worthy of our fear—and our compassion

Herman Melville’s Captain Ahab is perennially seen as the paradigm of a controlling, tyrannical agent. Ahab Unbound leaves his position as a Cold War icon behind, recasting him as a contingent figure, transformed by his environment—by chemistry, electromagnetism, entomology, meteorology, diet, illness, pain, trauma, and neurons firing—in ways that unexpectedly force us to see him as worthy of our empathy and our compassion. 

In sixteen essays by leading scholars, Ahab Unbound advances an urgent inquiry into Melville’s emergence as a center of gravity for materialist work, reframing his infamous whaling captain in terms of pressing conversations in animal studies, critical race and ethnic studies, disability studies, environmental humanities, medical humanities, political theory, and posthumanism. By taking Ahab as a focal point, we gather and give shape to the multitude of ways that materialism produces criticism in our current moment. Collectively, these readings challenge our thinking about the boundaries of both persons and nations, along with the racist and environmental violence caused by categories like the person and the human.

Ahab Unbound makes a compelling case for both the vitality of materialist inquiry and the continued resonance of Melville’s work.

Contributors: Branka Arsić, Columbia U; Christopher Castiglia, Pennsylvania State U; Colin Dayan, Vanderbilt U; Christian P. Haines, Pennsylvania State U; Bonnie Honig, Brown U; Jonathan Lamb, Vanderbilt U; Pilar Martínez Benedí, U of L’Aquila, Italy; Steve Mentz, St. John’s College; John Modern, Franklin and Marshall College; Mark D. Noble, Georgia State U; Samuel Otter, U of California, Berkeley; Donald E. Pease, Dartmouth College; Ralph James Savarese, Grinnell College; Russell Sbriglia, Seton Hall U; Michael D. Snediker, U of Houston; Matthew A. Taylor, U of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; Ivy Wilson, Northwestern U.

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All Is True
The Claims and Strategies of Realist Fiction
Lilian R. Furst
Duke University Press, 1995
"All is true," realist writers would say of their work, to which critics now respond: All is art and artifice. Offering a new approach to reading nineteenth-century realist fiction, Lilian R. Furst seeks to reconcile these contradictory claims. In doing so, she clarifies the deceptions, appropriations, intentions, and ultimately the power of literary realism.
In close textual analyses of works ranging across European and American literature, including paradigmatic texts by Balzac, Flaubert, George Eliot, Zola, Henry James, and Thomas Mann, Furst shows how the handling of time, the presentation of place, and certain narrational strategies have served the realists’ claim. She demonstrates how readers today, like those a hundred years ago, are convinced of the authenticity of the created illusion by such means as framing, voice, perspective, and the slippage from metonymy to metaphor. Further, Furst reveals the pains the realists took to conceal these devices, and thus to protect their claim to be employing a simple form. Taking into account both the claims and the covert strategies of these writers, All Is True puts forward an alternative to the conventional polarized reading of the realist text—which emerges here as neither strictly an imitation of an extraneous model nor simply a web of words but a brilliantly complex imbrication of the two.
A major statement on one of the most enduring forms in cultural history, this book promises to alter not only our view of realist fiction but our understanding of how we read it.
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Allegories of the Anthropocene
Elizabeth M. DeLoughrey
Duke University Press, 2019
In Allegories of the Anthropocene Elizabeth M. DeLoughrey traces how indigenous and postcolonial peoples in the Caribbean and Pacific Islands grapple with the enormity of colonialism and anthropogenic climate change through art, poetry, and literature. In these works, authors and artists use allegory as a means to understand the multiscalar complexities of the Anthropocene and to critique the violence of capitalism, militarism, and the postcolonial state. DeLoughrey examines the work of a wide range of artists and writers—including poets Kamau Brathwaite and Kathy Jetñil-Kijiner, Dominican installation artist Tony Capellán, and authors Keri Hulme and Erna Brodber—whose work addresses Caribbean plantations, irradiated Pacific atolls, global flows of waste, and allegorical representations of the ocean and the island. In examining how island writers and artists address the experience of finding themselves at the forefront of the existential threat posed by climate change, DeLoughrey demonstrates how the Anthropocene and empire are mutually constitutive and establishes the vital importance of  allegorical art and literature in understanding our global environmental crisis.
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Althusser and His Contemporaries
Philosophy's Perpetual War
Warren Montag
Duke University Press, 2013
Althusser and His Contemporaries alters and expands understanding of Louis Althusser and French philosophy of the 1960s and 1970s. Thousands of pages of previously unpublished work from different periods of Althusser's career have been made available in French since his death in 1990. Based on meticulous study of the philosopher's posthumous publications, as well as his unpublished manuscripts, lecture notes, letters, and marginalia, Warren Montag provides a thoroughgoing reevaluation of Althusser's philosophical project. Montag shows that the theorist was intensely engaged with the work of his contemporaries, particularly Foucault, Derrida, Deleuze, and Lacan. Examining Althusser's philosophy as a series of encounters with his peers' thought, Montag contends that Althusser's major philosophical confrontations revolved around three themes: structure, subject, and beginnings and endings. Reading Althusser reading his contemporaries, Montag sheds new light on structuralism, poststructuralism, and the extraordinary moment of French thought in the 1960s and 1970s.
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American Exceptionalism as Religion
Postmodern Discontent
Jordan Carson
The Ohio State University Press, 2020
Jordan Carson’s American Exceptionalism as Religion looks at how American nationalist ideologies intersect with religious ones in contemporary literature. Carson traces out how an exceptionalist belief system began to emerge historically with a distorted picture of religious commitment. He then connects this trend to writers such as Don DeLillo, Ana Castillo, Thomas Pynchon, George Saunders, and Marilynne Robinson to argue that these authors dismantle the privatization of religion in their writing and then offer their own alternatives. Their work, he argues, redefines religion in terms of practice and discipline, gauging it by its power to ground and guide behavior, morality, and sociality.
 
As American exceptionalism resurfaces in public discourse, Carson’s timely work invites readers to reconsider the nexus of religion, politics, and culture. Carson argues that defining religion according to secularist criteria has insulated ostensibly secular ideologies as well as traditional religion from public scrutiny. DeLillo’s, Castillo’s, Pynchon’s, Saunders’s, and Robinson’s redefinitions of religion result in a better grasp of how individuals actually live out their religious lives. More importantly, these authors help erect a framework for constructively engaging American exceptionalism and the ideas that support it.
 
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Animate Literacies
Literature, Affect, and the Politics of Humanism
Nathan Snaza
Duke University Press, 2019
In Animate Literacies Nathan Snaza proposes a new theory of literature and literacy in which he outlines how literacy is both constitutive of the social and used as a means to define the human. Weaving new materialism with feminist, queer, and decolonial thought, Snaza theorizes literacy as a contact zone in which humans, nonhuman animals, and nonvital objects such as chairs and paper all become active participants. In readings of classic literature by Kate Chopin, Frederick Douglass, James Joyce, Toni Morrison, Mary Shelley, and others, Snaza emphasizes the key roles that affect and sensory experiences play in literacy. Snaza upends common conceptions of literacy and its relation to print media, showing instead how such understandings reinforce dehumanizations linked to dominant imperialist, heterosexist, and capitalist definitions of the human. The path toward disrupting such exclusionary, humanist frameworks, Snaza contends, lies in formulating alternative practices of literacy and literary study that escape disciplined knowledge production.
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Antebellum at Sea
Maritime Fantasies in Nineteenth-Century America
Jason Berger
University of Minnesota Press, 2012

In the antebellum years, the Western world’s symbolic realities were expanded and challenged as merchant, military, and scientific activity moved into Pacific and Arctic waters. In Antebellum at Sea, Jason Berger explores the roles that early nineteenth-century maritime narratives played in conceptualizing economic and social transitions in the developing global market system and what these chronicles disclose about an era marked by immense change.

Focusing on the work of James Fenimore Cooper and Herman Melville, Berger enhances our understanding of how the nineteenth century negotiated its own tenuous progress by portraying how a wide range of maritime stories lays bare disturbing experiences of the new. Berger draws on Slavoj Žižek’s Lacanian notion of fantasy in order to reconsider the complex way maritime accounts operated in the political landscape of antebellum America, examining topics such as the function of maritime labor know-how within a transformation of scientific knowledge, anxiety produced by conflict between gender-specific and culture-specific forms of enjoyment, and how legal practices illuminate troubling juridical paradoxes at the heart of Polk-era political life.

Addressing the ideas of the antebellum age from unexpected and revealing perspectives, Berger calls on the conception of fantasy to consider how antebellum maritime literature disputes conventional views of American history, literature, and national identity.

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Apprehending the Criminal
The Production of Deviance in Nineteenth Century Discourse
Marie-Christine Leps
Duke University Press, 1992
In this wide-ranging analysis, Marie-Christine Leps traces the production and circulation of knowledge about the criminal in nineteenth-century discourse, and shows how the delineation of deviance served to construct cultural norms. She demonstrates how the apprehension of crime and criminals was an important factor in the establishment of such key institutions as national systems of education, a cheap daily press, and various welfare measures designed to fight the spread of criminality.
Leps focuses on three discursive practices: the emergence of criminology, the development of a mass-produced press, and the proliferation of crime fiction, in both England and France. Beginning where Foucault's work Discipline and Punish ends, Leps analyzes intertextual modes of knowledge production and shows how the elaboration of hegemonic truths about the criminal is related to the exercise of power.
The scope of her investigation includes scientific treatises such as Criminal Man by Cesare Lombroso and The English Convict by Charles Goring, reports on the Jack the Ripper murders in The Times and Le Petit Parisien, the Sherlock Holmes stories, Stevenson's Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and novels by Zola and Bourget.
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Archival Afterlives
Cixous, Derrida, and the Matter of Friendship
Laura Hughes
Northwestern University Press, 2024

A capacious analysis of a legendary intellectual friendship and the material legacies it left behind

Over the course of their decades-long friendship, Hélène Cixous and Jacques Derrida assembled overlapping archives of written experiments and exchanges that document a shared interest in their literary afterlives. In this incisive account, Laura Hughes shows how pushing against the limits of writing and of life itself means not only imagining but manifesting a community of future readers.

Archival Afterlives: Cixous, Derrida, and the Matter of Friendship examines the embodied nature of literary creation, taking letters, fragments, notes, and other ephemera as objects of critical analysis and care. Combining close readings of key texts and previously unexamined archival materials, Hughes traces critical connections between Cixous and Derrida, between the theoretical and the autobiographical, and between life writing and its limits. In putting deconstruction into dialogue with new material analyses and archive studies, Archival Afterlives positions this historical and intellectual relationship as a lens through which to reexamine the legacy of critical theory itself.

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Archive Feelings
A Theory of Greek Tragedy
Mario Telò
The Ohio State University Press, 2020
Do we take pleasure in reading ancient Greek tragedy despite the unsettling content or because of it? Does a safe aesthetic distance protect us from tragic suffering, or does the proximity to death tap into something more primal? Aristotle proposed catharsis, an emotional cleansing—or, in later interpretations, a sense of equilibrium—as tragedy’s outcome, and Sigmund Freud and Jacques Lacan, grand theorists of the forces of anti-mastery in human and nonhuman existence, surprisingly agreed. Notwithstanding this deferral to Aristotle, their theorizations of the death drive—together with Jacques Derrida’s notion of the archive as a place of conservation that inevitably fails—provide the groundwork for a radically new way of understanding tragic aesthetics.
 
With bold readings of thirteen plays by Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides, including the Oedipus cycle, the Oresteia, Medea, and Bacchae; an eclectic synthesis of Freud, Lacan, Derrida, Žižek, Deleuze, and other critical theorists; and an engagement with art, architecture, and film, Mario Telò’s Archive Feelings: A Theory of Greek Tragedy locates Greek tragedy’s aesthetic allure beyond catharsis in a vertiginous sense of giddy suspension, in a spiral of life and death that resists equilibrium, stabilization, and all forms of normativity. In so doing, Telò forges a new model of tragic aesthetics.
 
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Aristotle's Poetics
Stephen Halliwell
University of Chicago Press, 1998
In this, the fullest, sustained interpretation of Aristotle's Poetics available in English, Stephen Halliwell demonstrates that the Poetics, despite its laconic brevity, is a coherent statement of a challenging theory of poetic art, and it hints towards a theory of mimetic art in general. Assessing this theory against the background of earlier Greek views on poetry and art, particularly Plato's, Halliwell goes further than any previous author in setting Aristotle's ideas in the wider context of his philosophical system.

The core of the book is a fresh appraisal of Aristotle's view of tragic drama, in which Halliwell contends that at the heart of the Poetics lies a philosophical urge to instill a secularized understanding of Greek tragedy.

"Essential reading not only for all serious students of the Poetics . . . but also for those—the great majority—who have prudently fought shy of it altogether."—B. R. Rees, Classical Review

"A splendid work of scholarship and analysis . . . a brilliant interpretation."—Alexander Nehamas, Times Literary Supplement

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The Art of Being
Poetics of the Novel and Existentialist Philosophy
Yi-Ping Ong
Harvard University Press, 2018

The Art of Being is a powerful account of how the literary form of the novel reorients philosophy toward the meaning of existence. Yi-Ping Ong shows that for Kierkegaard, Sartre, and Beauvoir, the form of the novel in its classic phase yields the conditions for reconceptualizing the nature of self-knowledge, freedom, and the world. Their discovery gives rise to a radically new poetics of the nineteenth- and twentieth-century realist novel.

For the existentialists, a paradox lies at the heart of the novel. As a work of art, the novel exists as a given totality. At the same time, the capacity of the novel to compel belief in the free and independent existence of its characters depends on the absence of any perspective from which their lives may be viewed as a consummated whole. At stake in the poetics of the novel are the conditions under which knowledge of existence is possible. Ong’s reframing of foundational debates in novel theory takes us beyond old dichotomies of mind and world, interiority and totality, and form and mimesis. It illuminates existential dimensions of novelistic realism overlooked by empirical and sociological approaches.

Bringing together philosophy, novel theory, and intellectual history with groundbreaking readings of Tolstoy, Eliot, Austen, James, Flaubert, and Zola, The Art of Being reveals how the novel engages in its very form with philosophically rich notions of self-knowledge, freedom, authority, world, and the unfinished character of human life.

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Art, Theory, Revolution
The Turn to Generality in Contemporary Literature
Mitchum Huehls
The Ohio State University Press, 2022
Can form be political? Do specific aesthetic and literary forms necessarily point us toward a progressive or reactionary politics? Artists, authors, and critics like to imagine so, but what happens when they lose control of the politics of their forms? In Art, Theory, Revolution: The Turn to Generality in Contemporary Literature, Mitchum Huehls argues that art’s interest in revolution did not end with the twentieth century, as some critics would have it, but rather that the relationship between literary forms and politics has been severed, resulting in a twenty-first century investment in forms of generality such as genre, gesture, constructivism, and abstraction. Focusing on three particular domains (art, theory, and revolution) in which the relationship between form and politics has collapsed, Huehls shows how twenty-first-century US fiction writers such as Chris Kraus, Percival Everett, Jonathan Safran Foer, Rachel Kushner, Salvador Plascencia, and Sheila Heti are turning to forms of generality that lead us toward a more modest, ad hoc, context-dependent way to think about the politics of form. The result is the first major study of generality in literature.
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Artificial Mythologies
A Guide to Cultural Invention
Craig J. SaperForeword by Laura Kipnis
University of Minnesota Press, 1997

Artificial Mythologies was first published in 1997. Minnesota Archive Editions uses digital technology to make long-unavailable books once again accessible, and are published unaltered from the original University of Minnesota Press editions.

Cultural critics teach us that myths are artificial. Cultural innovators use the artificial to make something new. In this exhilarating guide, Craig J. Saper takes us on an eye-opening tour of the process of cultural invention-willfully entertaining foolish, absurd, even fake, solutions as a way of reaching new perspectives on cultural problems. Saper deploys this method to reveal unsuspected connections among major cultural issues, such as urban decay, the dangers of television's power, family values, and conservative criticism of higher education.

The model Saper uses builds on the later works of the revered French cultural critic Roland Barthes. These works, Saper argues, suggest poignant, playful, and productive ways of engaging dominant methodologies and mythologies. Artificial Mythologies shows us how, by allowing the artificial-our received ideas, common responses, and cultural mythologies-full play, we can arrive at provocative new solutions. The book demonstrates that the very conceptions of media and sociocultural issues that stymie innovation can be made to serve the cause of invention.

Craig J. Saper is assistant professor in the Department of English at the University of Pennsylvania.

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At Home in the World
Cosmopolitanism Now
Timothy Brennan
Harvard University Press, 1997

From every quarter we hear of a new global culture, postcolonial, hybrid, announcing the death of nationalism, the arrival of cosmopolitanism. But under the drumbeat attending this trend, Timothy Brennan detects another, altogether different sound. Polemical, passionate, certain to provoke, his book exposes the drama being played out under the guise of globalism. A bracing critique of the critical self-indulgence that calls itself cosmopolitanism, it also takes note of the many countervailing forces acting against globalism in its facile, homogenizing sense.

The developments Brennan traces occur in many places--editorial pages, policy journals, corporate training manuals, and, primarily, in the arts. His subject takes him from George Orwell to Julia Kristeva, from Subcommandante Marcos to Julio Cortázar, from Ernst Bloch to contemporary apologists for transnational capitalism and "liberation management," from "third world" writing to the Nobel Prize, with little of critical theory or cultural studies left untouched in between. Brennan gives extended treatment to two exemplary figures: the Trinidadian writer C. L. R. James, whose work suggests an alternative approach to cultural studies; and the Cuban writer Alejo Carpentier, whose appreciation of Cuban popular music cuts through the usual distinctions between mass and elite culture.

A critical call to arms, At Home in the World summons intellectuals and scholars to reinvigorate critical cultural studies. In stripping the false and heedless from the new cosmopolitanism, Brennan revitalizes the idea.

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Audionarratology
Lessons from Radio Drama
Lars Bernaerts and Jarmila Mildorf
The Ohio State University Press, 2021
Radio drama has been around for more than one hundred years and is still vibrant in many countries. A narrative-dramatic genre and art form in its own right, radio drama has traditionally crossed medial and generic boundaries and continues to do so in our age of digitization. Audionarratology: Lessons from Audio Drama, edited by Lars Bernaerts and Jarmila Mildorf, explores radio drama from a narratological angle. The contributions cover key questions surrounding audiophonic meaning-making, storyworld creation, mediation, focalization, suspense, unreliability, and ambiguity as well as the relationship between script and performance, seriality, antinarrative tendencies, and radio drama’s political implications now and in its early days. The book thus explores the interplay between sound, voices, music, language, silence, electroacoustic manipulation, and narrative structures. Providing examples from American, Australian, British, Dutch, and German radio drama—such as I Love a MysteryThe War of the Worlds, and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy—this book has important insights for scholars working in transmedial narratology, media studies, literary and cultural studies, theatre and performance studies, and communication studies as well as for practitioners and lovers of radio drama alike.
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Augustine the Reader
Meditation, Self-Knowledge, and the Ethics of Interpretation
Brian Stock
Harvard University Press, 1996

Augustine of Hippo, a central figure in the history of Western thought, is also the author of a theory of reading that has had a profound influence on Western letters from the ages of Petrarch, Montaigne, Luther, and Rousseau to those of Freud and our own time. Brian Stock provides the first full account of this theory within the evolution of Augustine’s early dialogues, his Confessions, and his systematic treatises.

Augustine was convinced that words and images play a mediating role in our perceptions of reality. In the union of philosophy, psychology, and literary insights that forms the basis of his theory of reading, the reader emerges as the dominant model of the reflective self. Meditative reading, indeed the meditative act that constitutes reading itself, becomes the portal to inner being. At the same time, Augustine argues that the self-knowledge reading brings is, of necessity, limited, since it is faith rather than interpretive reason that can translate reading into forms of understanding.

In making his theory of reading a central concern, Augustine rethinks ancient doctrines about images, memory, emotion, and cognition. In judging what readers gain and do not gain from the sensory and mental understanding of texts, he takes up questions that have reappeared in contemporary thinking. He prefigures, and in a way he teaches us to recognize, our own preoccupations with the phenomenology of reading, the hermeneutics of tradition, and the ethics of interpretation.

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Autonomy
The Social Ontology of Art under Capitalism
Nicholas Brown
Duke University Press, 2019
In Autonomy Nicholas Brown theorizes the historical and theoretical argument for art's autonomy from its acknowledged character as a commodity. Refusing the position that the distinction between art and the commodity has collapsed, Brown demonstrates how art can, in confronting its material determinations, suspend the logic of capital by demanding interpretive attention. He applies his readings of Marx, Hegel, Adorno, and Jameson to a range of literature, photography, music, television, and sculpture, from Cindy Sherman's photography and the novels of Ben Lerner and Jennifer Egan to The Wire and the music of the White Stripes. He demonstrates that through their attention and commitment to form, such artists turn aside the determination posed by the demand of the market, thereby defeating the foreclosure of meaning entailed in commodification. In so doing, he offers a new theory of art that prompts a rethinking of the relationship between art, critical theory, and capitalism.
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